Many people dread the performance review. It is common that both the supervisor and the direct report have some anxiety connected with the process. How are you navigating the performance feedback process?
Whenever I speak to groups about feedback, one of the most fundamental but important comments I make is that we need to remove the word criticism from our vocabulary. This word alone can start the process off on the wrong foot.
Performance feedback is a delicate process. It can be powerful and motivational, and it can also knock people off their feet, derail positive performance, and be destructive for relationships.
No Picnic, No Sandwich
You may have heard of the sandwich model. This is an old managers tale of how to deliver a performance review. Start with saying something great, give the tough (negative) feedback in the middle, and end with something great.
Research exists on the results of both positive and negative feedback. You can study it (example research) and draw some of your own conclusions.
I’m a big believer in positive reinforcement. I believe positivity yields more positive results. When you focus on growing talents and stop focusing on fixing weaknesses amazing things can happen.
This has something to do with why I chose the business name, Appreciative Strategies, and why I own the registered trademark for these words.
At the same time, we cannot always ignore areas that require improvement. How should that be managed?
My professional opinion is, “Differently for everyone.” Just like the most effective communication involves flexing of style to best reach everyone, similar rules apply for communicating performance feedback.
When you consider that you may have three categories of performance, exemplar, fully performing, and those who are not adequately performing, you can make better choices about feedback.
Consider that the “sandwich” may not yield the best future outcomes for the exemplar or fully performing employee. Also, consider that the sandwich may be too soft for those who are not adequately performing.
Most important is that performance feedback should be happening often, not just at the once per year performance evaluation.
Your best employees may be the hungriest. Skip the sandwich. Feed them well.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.